We waited expectantly for Hurricane Irene, bracing for the worse. The media threw New York under the transit, predicting a major weather disaster for the Northeast. North Carolina was told to hunker down and keep doing the same things they do with every storm that threatens the coastline. And we did. We ran to the grocery stores and bought every last loaf of bread and jug of milk. Generators were cranked up; new ones purchased. Everything not bolted down was put away. And we waited.
Irene began her visit late Friday night with rain. By Saturday morning at 4:30am the power went out. At 6:30am, I began videoing the devastation, continuing every hour until 5:00pm when the winds abated. During those long hours, the wind whipped in from the east, bringing six foot plus water surges from the Atlantic, up the Pamlico Sound to our home on Chocowinity Bay. Debris traveled with the torrent, dragging huge cypress trees, crab pots, sea trash, human debris, pieces of houses and old piers. Then we watched the wind direction change westerly and suck the water like a siphon back out to sea, but most of the debris stayed.
As the storm died down, we walked outside to access the damage and begin the cleanup. So far this story sounds horrible, doesn’t it? In reality we have had a tremendous amount of blessings and laughter. Yes, laughter. And tears.
We worked five 14 hour days. We found a six foot water moccasin. I screamed, my husband screamed… but my Paul Bunyon landed the axe perfectly! Then we laughed like crazy. The grandchildren were told the heroic story and think Papa is a true hero, saving their Nana. Later we found a copperhead in the sunroom. I was outside when I heard my husband scream again. This time he called for assistance. Son-in-law #2 came to the rescue. We are minus that sweet thing as well. Later we laughed as we drifted off to sleep from exhaustion.
The sea took a lot of things, but it gifted us. I had been collecting driftwood for years. All were taken away, but more, much more were left behind under all the debris—pieces even more beautiful than I had before. Neighbors checked on one another. We assisted in other parts of our storm-battered county—delivering food, helping put tarps on houses, helping with debris removal, and offering lots of hugs and encouragement. Today we worked at the Disaster Relief Center. Again, tears and laughter. People are stopping what they are doing and helping others. Relief teams from Florida to Virginia are arriving with help and resources.
Right on the eve of September 11, I feel a resurgence of American pride and ingenuity. I see firsthand what our people can do. Irene did not go sweetly in the night, but behind her she left people who are rolling their sleeves up and digging in. That’s what we should be about, always. Helping others.
A link to a video Mom shot during the Hurricane: http://www1.snapfish.com/snapfish/slideshow/AlbumID=4611319015/PictureID=223587420015/a=2028638_4321222/otsc=SHR/otsi=SPIClink/COBRAND_NAME=snapfish/
What was the last unexpected lesson you learned?